August 17th to 30th 2002
Saturday august 17'th
Galicia - where is that? - was the standardquestion - is that where Asterix is from?
No - Galicia is in the northwestern corner of Spain - above Portugal. Later on this trip I will go to Asturia and Cantabria. These regions are next to Galicia - to the right - on the way to the Basque country.
The trip to this far-out place starts at another far-out place, the new terminal at Billund Airport. Maersk Air to Paris - and Air France to Madrid. Nice trip, except for the frence fool on the way to Madrid sitting next to me, spending the whole trip complaining there was no free champagne for the dinner!
And of course - it's not at all fun when you right after the landing hear your name called in the loudspeaker. "Please report to the person at the exit" - shit no - I bet my luggage is at the bottom of the Bay of Biscay. But the woman with my name on the board just wants to see my ticket, because Paris couldn't find the left-part. They got it allrigt, so she wonders whats wrong in Paris.
At 1 pm its on the Madrid metro to my "favourite" hotel in Madrid Hotel Plaza Mayor (been there twice before). Check in - and spends the rest of the day looking around the area of Santa Ana and Plaza Mayor. It's hot hot - a sign says 42 degrees celsius - but I think it's an overestimation. Most of the bars, cafes, restaurants and shops are closed. People has left Madrid. Maybe to go to Galicia - looking for Asterix?
Sunday august 18'th
Taking the Talgo-train at 1 pm to Santiago de Compostela. Nothing much to say about that trip - just plain boring. Some kid screaming all the way. Parents and grandparents sends fascinated eyes to the little terrorist all the way - the rest of the wagon eyes that could kill
It's 9.30 pm as the train arrives in Santiago. Takes about 15 minuttes to find my place to sleep here at the Monesterio De San Martín Pinario. That is a benedictin monestary, transformed into a hotel in the summer. What they do to the monks I dont know.
An exiting place to stay. Lang halls and nice cloisters with plenty of fountains. But not much luxery in the room - a chair, a small table, a bed and a neon lamp, doesn't really make of for a lot of cozyness. But it's quiet - and it's easy to fall asleep
Monday august 19'th
Breakfastroom in the monestery is something special. Almost as long as a football field - with long tables at both sides. You sit in a long row eating your croissant and drinking your cafe con leche. In the middle of the room there is a balcony, the kind where you would expect Professor Dumbledore to turn up any minute.
I use the day to take a closer look at the old sights in this city. That is of course the old cathedral, which they started to build back in 1075, but first completed in 1750. Really impressive, and the goal for all those people taking the pilgrimige-walk to Santiago. You can always tell who they are by looking at them. A long stick in one hand - and they all look so tired....
And yes - here are lots of tourists - but mainly from Spain. Very few from the rest of the world.
Dinner at the hotel. A 3-course dinner for 8 Euro - thats not bad
Tuesday august 20'th
I walk to Estacíon Autobuses. From here there is a bus every hour to Pontevedra, about 70 km south of Santiago
Pontevedra is another old historic city. Not as many monuments - not as many tourists - but very cozy indeed. They deliver you with a map at the tourist-office, with all the sights numbered from 1 to 23. So you just get started. In the middle of the afternoon I am at no 23 (Xardins de Eduardo Vincenti) - and its time to turn back to the bus-terminal and take a bus back to Santiago.
Wednesday august 21'th
Another walk to Estacion Autobuses. This time for the bus to La Coruna, 70 km north of Santiago.
Where Pontevedra is historic, then La Coruna is a modern city, and very famous for its great football-club.
Also here they've got at map at the tourist-office, but there are no numbers, so you have to find your own way around. I start by the harbour and take a look at the beautiful houses along the quay. Many of them have special made glass-balconys build on to them. They look great.
From there to the town hall - and suddenly - there he is - Asterix!!. In full figure. Is there anything with Asterix and Galicia anyway?? - hmmm - no I don't think so. Superman and Spiderman are here as well - and they have got nothing to do with Galicia. It's just comix-week in La Coruna I'm afraid.
I take a long walk along the bay at La Coruna. A part of the city is placed on a long tongue of land into the sea, and you can make the whole walk along it. There is also a tram thet follows the bay, but I decided to take the 5 km long walk. It's hot at the end. It's hard to find shadow when you walk along the coast. But I do get the chance to see Castillo De San Anton and El Torre De Hércules.
Later it's back on the bus and back to Santiago.
Thursday august 22'nd
I start this day with a discussion with myself. Should I take the bus to the most western point in Spain called Cabo Finisterre - with the risk that it's a tourist-trap - or should I stay in Santiago. The lazy me wins the discussion. I stay in Santiago for a relaxing day.
But I do see a nice little museum about the history of the pilgrimage called Museo Das Peregrinacións; I do take a look at Convento De Santo Domingo De Boneval (they like long names for their sights....); and I do take a closer look at the church of my monestary. I also visit the Collegio De Fonseca back from 1532 and finally I visit the church of San Fiz De Solovio.
Back in the monestary I finish my Poul Auster novel "The book of illusions"
Friday August 23'rd
Leaving Santiago with Alsa-bus at 8 am towards Asturia. The bus arrives at Gijon at 2.30 pm - and it's time to find Hotel Gijon
This is certainly a step up from the monestary. Nice room - with a TV - and a feature that is way to rare - music at the bathroom.
It has been a little hard to find a place to sleep in Gijon. There is a reason for that. It's called la Fiesta de la sidra natural. Asturia is apple-country, and they make special apples for their sidra (cider). And the pouring of the cider is almost an art. You hold the cider-bottle high into the air - and the glass in a streched arm along your body. Then you pour the cider - and hope to hit the glass.
At the city-square there is a competion among the bartenders in this unique sport. Every competitor has got 5 glasses and one bottle of cider. Then you have to get exactly 130 cl in each glass - and you also get marks for good style!
Another strange thing is a new Guinness-record. There are 2.725 people gathered at Playa de Poniente for the event. They all get a bottle of cider, and on a signal they all pour the cider in the right way. A new record has been reached - and I bet there will be another one next year.
This might be looking a little bit like Ibiza - but don't worry - the city is also nice.
Saturday August 24'th
I start this day by a walk in the "new" Gijon - which is a nice mix with old and new. I pass the "Centro De Cultura Antigua Instituto". There is music inside, so I take a look. The "student-philharmonics" (?) of Gijon is practising for a concert the same evening. There is also a fine little photo-exhibition with pictures by Constantino Suárez - some from the civil war in Spain.
Lunch at my local restaurant - a little siesta at the room and Pelota on the TV.
Another walk into the city. This time the old part also known as Cimadeville. A young guy tries to impress his girlfriend by pouring cider the right way. Well - it would be more macho it he wasn't standing above just above a sewer - just in case. And outside all the Sideria's you will always notice a slimy mass of spilled cider - and the pigeons seems a little drunk all the time.
Sunday August 25'th
30.000 bottles of cider. Thats is what is given out on the last day of the cider-festival. It's a simple system. You buy the official cider-glas of the year. Then you go from stand to stand - all set up by differents producers - and you tast the harvest of this year.
In this field asturians are not as different from other people all over the world. When something is free they will be here. And in the afternoon you can see in some faces that they just might have got a little to much.
I spend the rest of the day as a lot of locals spend a sunday - by walking around.
Jeg bruger ellers dagen som alle spaniere tilsyneladende bruger deres søndage - på at promenere.
Monday august 26'th
Leaving Gijon at 11 am. A very nice ride by bus to Santander in Cantabria. A part of the trip runs along some nice small villages along the mountains "Picos De Europa", so there are lots af things to look at.
In to Hotel Central - very cozy - unfortunately I seem to like the places that are a little expensive.
Time for a walk in the city. The usual promenade at the harbour, and a nice boat-ride on the bay. Santander is more tourist-minded tha Gijon. You even hear other languages than spanish.
Dinner at the hotel - at 9.30 pm - I start to learn the local customs about dinner-time. At the telly there is a game I have never seen before. The field is made of sand and is the size of a small tennis-field. 9 pins are placed in the middle, and some men stand in each corner trying to hit the pins with big balls made of wood. A strange mixture between billiards and bowling.
Middag på hotellet - trukket helt til 9.30 - man begynder at lære de lokale skikke. På fjernsynet kører et spil jeg aldrig har set før. På en sandbane på størrelse med en badmintonbane er placeret 9 kegler i midten, som nogle voksne mænd forsøger at vælte ved at stå i hjørnerne og smide med store trækugler. En mærkelig blanding mellem bowling og keglebillard........
Tuesday august 27'th
Strangest places I eat my breakfast. Here at the hotel there is a head of an elk hanging above my table.
It's raining cats and dogs outside, but clearing up later in the morning. Still look a little threatening - but what the hell - there's always a cafe within reach in this town - so let's get out.
It turns out to be a long walk. First to Peninsula De La Magdalena. Lots of tourists - and one of those strange trains to take the tourists sightseeing. Well I take the walk anyway.
The along the beach of "El Sardinero" - with a short rainy-stop at a cafe. Finally I reach the area called Cabo Menor outside the city. It is getting windy, so it's pretty tough out here. Not a lot of tourist, so you say hi to whoever you meet.
It's 4 pm and it's raining heavy again. Late lunch at a cafe - really raining now. Nothing else to do than take the bus back to the hotel.
The rest of the afternoon and the evening is spend inside in the company of US-open on Eurosport and Umberto Ecos book "Baudolino" - and it's still raining.
Wednesday august 28'th
Bustrip today - and it's raining !!!. Leaving at 9 am - first stop is Puente Viesgo. Here there is a nice cave with old cavepaintings - and it's dry !!!
Then of to Valle de Pas. It is supposed to be very beautifull around here, but you can't see nothing because of the rain. And the area is famous for it's cheasecakes (I guess every area has something to be famous for). We also visit an etnographic museum, where a very old guy tells us about the life back in the old days in this area. Sounds very interesting - but it is in spanish - so I don't understand a word.
On to the hightlight of the day. The Cabarceno animalpark. And the rain has stopped....
Cabarceno is placed in a closed mine-area, and is very very beautiful. Lot's of animals, including monkeys from Gibraltar, with a very relaxed attitude towards the fences. The run around among the audience begging for food. Luckily the lions, tigers, elephants and bears doesn't do that.
Back in Santander at 8 pm.
Thursday august 29'th
Well - the idea was to the train back to Madrid in the afternoon, but that was sold out, so it will be the night-train instead.
This leaves another day for Santandar, so I check out of my hotel and take a bus to Santillana Del Mar. Takes less than an hour. Santillana Del Mar is a very cozy old town with lots of lovely souvenir-shops. And as a specialty they have a torture-museum as well - and a museum with old machines build for throwing big stones at other people. I see them both, and for some reason they remind me of old Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies.
Here is also a nice little zoo. Mostly waterbirds and small monkeys.
In the evening its back to Santander - a short walk around town - and at 11 pm it's the train to Madrid.
Friday august 30'th
I do get some sleep on the train. It arrives in Madrid at 8 am. I head for the Barajas airport, to check in my luggage. It's only 15 minutes by Metro out there.
Back to Madrid for some final shopping at "El Corte Inglés" - the huge shopping-center you will find in all the big cities.
In the afternoon back to the airport. Leaving at 3.30 to Paris - and on to Billund. Finally its the bus to Vejle, where I arrive at 11 pm.